Dare to Leave the Trenches to Occupy Space of Reconciliation – Remembrance Sunday
God is calling us on a journey from the trenches to the open, fertile, generous space of reconciliation. So said Canon Paul Arbuthnot in his sermon on Remembrance Sunday (November 12) in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. Speaking to a large congregation which included the President Michael D Higgins, Canon Arbuthnot explained that dwelling in the open ground of reconciliation required us to coexist in a manner that respects the other’s right to exist.
The annual Service of Choral Evensong for Remembrance Sunday was led by the Dean, the Very Revd William Morton who welcomed the President, a representative of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, along with the Ambassador of the United Kingdom Paul Johnston and the CEO of Leopardstown Park Hospital Ann–Marie O’Grady, both of whom read lessons. He also welcomed representatives of Dail Eireann, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Chief Justice of Ireland and members of the judiciary and representatives of the Defence Forces including the president of RBL Ireland, Lt Col Ken Martin and members of the organisation.
An act of remembrance included the Exhortation read by chairman of the RBL Ireland, Paul Stephenson, and the Last Post and Reveille. Wreaths were laid at the war memorial in the north transept by President Higgins and Lt Col Martin.
In his sermon, Canon Arbuthnot said that churches and cathedrals were committed to reconciliation. The summit of this is the Eucharist. With that in mind he asked what God was calling us to do on Remembrance Sunday.
The horror of the First World War was conducted in the trenches in France, he said. “Today serves as an urgent reminder for us to leave our trenches. The trenches in which we place ourselves so willingly within and find difficult to leave. […] These are the trenches of sectarianism in our land, of casual racism in our society, and of the terrible tragedy of violence in the Holy Land. They are but some of the trenches which we find ourselves withering within,” he stated.
He continued: “But, God calls us on a journey out of this. He calls us from the containment and narrowness of trench life into the broad vast, gracious landscape of reconciliation. Where our traditions, our hopes, and our people can co–exist side by side beyond old enmities and slogans.” He said it took bravery to leave the trenches and vision to imagine life in a wide open space but that it was a godly task that was so urgent in this world at the moment.
“It is time to leave the narrowness of the trenches and occupy that gracious space of reconciliation. Dare to go on that journey with God,” he concluded.